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Dustin86

If God Doesn't Exist, Then Why So Much Reverence for "Objective Reality"? [Atlas Spoilers]

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Really the full title of this message should be "If God Doesn't Exist, Then "Objective Reality" Is Really Nothing More Than a Cosmic Fart, So Why Do Objectivists Have Such Deep Reverence for It?" But that would be too long for the forum system.

Getting down to brass tacks though, at the end of Atlas Shrugged, after the blowout of Project F, James Taggart, one of the villains, his brain just basically "snaps" and he sits down on the floor of the Project F room and he becomes basically this empty blubbering shell of a man, he reaches this dejected low point that is as abjectly low as a man can go. And this isn't because of sorrow at moral evil (moral evil according to the conventional non-objectivist definition that most people go by), it's because of his supposed inability to accept objective reality, his supposed incompatability with objective reality.

Objectivism's atheism seems incompatable with Objectivism's deep reverence for "objective reality". Jim Taggart's downfall, in which he becomes this blubbering empty shell of a man, would be understandable if he were a character in a theist novel who discovered that he had been dissing God this whole time by dissing God's Creation, God's Reality. If he became this blubbering "repentant sinner" down on the floor at that point, in a theist novel, that would be understandable.

But in an atheist framework, I just don't see it. At best, Objectivists are telling people to "love the one they're stuck with" even though it's admittedly no more than a cosmic fart that is no more deserving of any reverence than a fantasy world that somebody has built inside their head.

Thoughts?

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If things where other than what they were—but they're not. Existence exists, it is what it is, and you either direct your consciousness to apprehend it, or not. That being said, Ayn Rand captures it eloquently via John Galt in his speech when she penned the paragraph prior to these words spanning pages 945-946:

"Do not remind me that it pertains only to this life on earth. I am concerned with no other. Neither are you.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

Thoughts?

Classic trolling.

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4 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

Objectivism's atheism seems incompatable with Objectivism's deep reverence for "objective reality".

Dustin86,

It is not out of reverence that Objectivism acknowledges reality. Speaking for myself, it is out of self-preservation and purpose that I acknowledge reality as it is, without regard for that which it is not. The James Taggart meltdown is merely an illustration of what might happen to an individual in denial of reality, and suddenly confronted with the undeniable consequences of that denial.

If the purpose of your initial post is to provoke a discussion of atheism as a component of Objectivist beliefs, you could come right out and state it. As I have come to understand, atheism is not so much a tenet of Objectivism as it is a derived conclusion. There are those who maintain that some sort of supernatural-omnipotent-omniscient  being exist, and yet they have their own rationalization as to how this belief fits into objective reality. I am not one of those people.

Imagine what society would be like if parents stopped frightening their children with threats of eternal damnation, and instead impressed upon them the consequences of ignoring reality. There would be little need for a term such as "God" in matters of morality. Reality would provide its own morality.

 

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5 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

But in an atheist framework, I just don't see it. At best, Objectivists are telling people to "love the one they're stuck with" even though it's admittedly no more than a cosmic fart that is no more deserving of any reverence than a fantasy world that somebody has built inside their head.

I don't think Rand explains it too well to the degree of loving reality. Not in explicit terms, only as expressed in her art.

I find that atheism in Objectivism is a sort of reply to Nietzsche saying that God is dead, and falling into nihilism was deplorable to Nietzsche. He had some notion that meaning has to be created by oneself if god is not able to provide it. Objectivism would go onto talking about egoism, experiencing happiness, independent thought to create meaning, and standards of egoism besides a subjective feeling. It's not really that you'd love reality as if it had intrinsic value - you'd love reality in the sense you've made real meaning within reality. Your being alive would itself become profoundly important. If you hated reality, and declared it to be valueless, it'd be nihilism.

EDIT: Jim going crazy from a disconnect with reality would be a lot like scifi books I've read. Phillip K. Dick wrote about it; Asimov probably did somewhere. It's in Dune in some form. Nowadays, it's in a lot of TV. No theism required.

Edited by Eiuol

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5 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

Classic trolling.

No, I truly believe that this is actually at the very heart of the matter of Objectivism. Please just give me a chance, I will show the proper relevance.

 

3 hours ago, Repairman said:

Imagine what society would be like if parents stopped frightening their children with threats of eternal damnation, and instead impressed upon them the consequences of ignoring reality.

Okay so what about children who just don't want to be a part of "reality"? At what age should they get to decide? What about children who decide at a very early age that they just want to live in their own fantasy world, and their decision is in all seriousness?

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Because Objectivists think using logic, instead of regurgitating cliches and catch phrases.

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To revere, to love, to value anything, for anything to provide joy, happiness, fulfillment, for you to achieve anything, for you to be anything ... ALL of this, ALL that is good, positive, meaningful, all that might and ought to be so (through working towards it) IS or can BE within the realm of objective reality.

That which does not exist does not exist... it is nothing, and nothing can never have any positive value or meaning.

If you value anything, care about anything, love life, or anything, it is only reality that makes it possible.

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7 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

Okay so what about children who just don't want to be a part of "reality"? At what age should they get to decide? What about children who decide at a very early age that they just want to live in their own fantasy world, and their decision is in all seriousness?

Children do not stay children forever, although there are many adults who refuse to face reality with or without any religious belief. But to choose to divorce one's self from reality would be a foolish choice for anyone accept a very small child, protected from harm by parents. And even children embrace reality more than they are often given credit. Critical thinking comes to some children sooner than others. In a culture devoid of religion, reality would eventually administer to these children the lessons reality is well known for. These lessons are usually unpleasant for those who ignore reality into adulthood. In the present, we have the freedom to use our minds as we so please, as I hope we always will. For children (or adults) unwilling to abandon their faith, they are perfectly entitled to their religion(s).

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10 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

... what about children who just don't want to be a part of "reality"?

What about children who want to only eat ice-cream for every meal?

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14 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

What about children who want to only eat ice-cream for every meal?

sNerd,

My questions were brought on when Repairman suggested that parents replace preaching "eternal hellfire" sermons to their kids with sermons about what happens when people don't obey "objective reality".

What usually brought on hellfire sermons from parents in our Christian past was when the kid didn't do what the parent wanted. Nowadays, kids are more burdened than ever before by rising expectations coming from parents, teachers, everybody. Also, kids today are given the Objectivist version of the hellfire sermon. They have been at least ever since I was a kid. I worked 65-85+ intense hours per week, much longer than my parents or teachers, of school, homework, and other obligations starting at age 11. I was told that I would fail in life and that I would "end up living on the street" if I didn't do it. I became a broken man with major health problems at the "ripe old age" of 28 in no small part because I slaved away my younger years trying to avoid Objectivist "hellfire". I feel like the biggest sucker in the world. I wish I could have just shut my eyes and lived in "fantasy elf fairy world" all those years instead. I would have enjoyed it much more, to say the least.

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3 hours ago, Dustin86 said:

... the Objectivist version of the hellfire sermon. They have been at least ever since I was a kid. I worked 65-85+ intense hours per week, much longer than my parents or teachers, of school, homework, and other obligations starting at age 11. I was told that I would fail in life and that I would "end up living on the street" if I didn't do it.

Sounds like you're mixing up Objectivists and Asian Tiger Moms. At any rate, the idea that a Stoic like work ethic is the opposite of religion is simply false. Many religious traditions -- within Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc. -- are very work oriented.

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The opening post of this thread poses some unspecified doubt as to the application of atheism as a workable part of Objectivism:

On 9/14/2016 at 4:07 PM, Dustin86 said:

But in an atheist framework, I just don't see it. At best, Objectivists are telling people to "love the one they're stuck with" even though it's admittedly no more than a cosmic fart that is no more deserving of any reverence than a fantasy world that somebody has built inside their head.

Dustin86,

Would you clarify your claim that "Objectivists are telling people to 'love the one they're stuck with';" what is the one in reference to? 

Throughout you commentary, you seem to suggest that Objectivists deify reality. Reality does not deserve reverence; it merely is, and for one to ignore it, one does so at one's peril. I don't know much more I could add to that without striking out into another tangential discussion. 

It was not my intent to open a dialog about your childhood experiences. Having a son who is roughly the same age as you, I couldn't help experiencing a tinge of pathos. But the set of facts that may or may not comprise your past do not alter reality. Fantasy worlds are fine for professional actors, or other creative people seeking to make a career out of fiction. But life is not a fiction; your life is not a fiction. You make of it that which it is. If it is not a life you love, make it one worth living. 

The Objectivist preference for reality over mysticism is arrived at through logic. It requires no faith, no worship. The Objectivist preference for a secular society, as  opposed to one of theocratic statism, is entirely rational, and arguably All-American. The violent sectarian strife of theocracies both past and present are notably absent from the modern history of the United States, (post 1865.) The nearest to religious warfare we've experienced since then is that of the Muslim (*and radical Christian anti-abortionist) terror threat within our borders. The freedom to choose a religious creed, as well as the freedom to live by a rational code, is more than the privilege of American's; it is the natural right of all people, whether they know it or not. No one I know of prays five times a day to reality. I doubt if any of the self-identifying Objectivists on this forum would consider such an idea to be anything but mildly amusing. Reality is not something built inside one's head. It is experienced until you no longer exist.

Thought? 

Edited by Repairman
* an afterthought

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Reverence for a cosmic fart, Dustin?

It is possible to have a deep respect for Nature, and to treat the natural laws that maintain it with respect.  Such is the wisdom and intent of Bacon's observation that, "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."  God, more properly ordered as Nature's God, is a reflection of that sentiment, but at the same time a distraction from it, because personalizing the object of ones reverence doesn't increase ones understanding of it.

I would say that Taggert's downfall was caused by superimposing his self over the reality that encompassed him; it did not behave as he would, and so it became something entirely alien to him and beyond his comprehension.

Reality is not harsh, it is consistent, and there is a beauty in that worthy of reverence.

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On 9/16/2016 at 10:28 AM, Dustin86 said:

sNerd,

My questions were brought on when Repairman suggested that parents replace preaching "eternal hellfire" sermons to their kids with sermons about what happens when people don't obey "objective reality".

What usually brought on hellfire sermons from parents in our Christian past was when the kid didn't do what the parent wanted. Nowadays, kids are more burdened than ever before by rising expectations coming from parents, teachers, everybody. Also, kids today are given the Objectivist version of the hellfire sermon. They have been at least ever since I was a kid. I worked 65-85+ intense hours per week, much longer than my parents or teachers, of school, homework, and other obligations starting at age 11. I was told that I would fail in life and that I would "end up living on the street" if I didn't do it. I became a broken man with major health problems at the "ripe old age" of 28 in no small part because I slaved away my younger years trying to avoid Objectivist "hellfire". I feel like the biggest sucker in the world. I wish I could have just shut my eyes and lived in "fantasy elf fairy world" all those years instead. I would have enjoyed it much more, to say the least.

You should've taken five minutes out of your busy schedule, and read this entry on duty (that's a synonym for obligation) in the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/duty.html

It would've saved you a lot of toil and aggravation.

Let's just put it this way: I'm an Objectivist, and, with rare exceptions, I limit my work week to 30 hours, as a matter of principle. And I doubt Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff averaged more than that, through their lives.

And that's not because I don't have a work ethic. Worth ethic has nothing to do with the number of hours you put in.

Edited by Nicky
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On 9/15/2016 at 9:45 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

To revere, to love, to value anything, for anything to provide joy, happiness, fulfillment, for you to achieve anything, for you to be anything ... ALL of this, ALL that is good, positive, meaningful, all that might and ought to be so (through working towards it) IS or can BE within the realm of objective reality.

That which does not exist does not exist... it is nothing, and nothing can never have any positive value or meaning.

If you value anything, care about anything, love life, or anything, it is only reality that makes it possible.

 

On 9/16/2016 at 1:50 PM, Repairman said:

Reality does not deserve reverence; it merely is, and for one to ignore it, one does so at one's peril.

Well, which is it? Is there a reverence for reality in Objectivism or not?

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On 9/17/2016 at 1:35 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

Reality is not harsh, it is consistent

Supposing reality were consistently set upon the termination of my existence, that would be pretty harsh.

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LOL, don't take it personally...

"Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one's better. Or more creative... She's a bitch." ~ Andrew Fassbach, World War Z

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1 hour ago, epistemologue said:

 

Well, which is it? Is there a reverence for reality in Objectivism or not?

Who are you asking?

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16 hours ago, epistemologue said:

 

Well, which is it? Is there a reverence for reality in Objectivism or not?

The definition of "revere" is:

 

verb (used with object), revered, revering.

1. to regard with respect tinged with awe; venerate:
The child revered her mother.
 
 
When men are confronted with the grand canyon, landing on the moon, or when the first men see up close the crab nebula with its pulsar nested at its core, I think a sense of reverence according to the definition (respect with awe) is entirely valid.  The definition need not have any invalid dimension of the supernatural or subservience ... that aspect originates from those who admonish us to revere only God and Heaven.

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19 hours ago, epistemologue said:

 

Well, which is it? Is there a reverence for reality in Objectivism or not?

As I interpret the OP, the word,"reverence", implies a form of worship, as in, the recognition of and praise for supernatural forces. Speaking for myself, I acknowledge reality, and to be certain, I hold the causes of reality, physical sciences and certain theories of psychology, in very high regard indeed. If one were to fall short of offering veneration to natural forces, a realist will, nonetheless, recognize the hazard of total disregard for reality. For example, a common sense appreciation for the force of gravity need not result in being awe-struck upon witnessing a rock fall from one's hand and land on the floor.  I believe I expressed that in a variety of ways. On the other hand, if one experiences a sense of emotion watching a sunrise or the Aurora Borealis, I would hope and expect that it would be a joyous emotion. This sense of joy, of the joyful moments of life, are of the highest priority for an Objectivist. The emotion need not be worship.

If it is a semantic misunderstanding, bear in mind Dustin86 seems to use the term, "reverence", in the same way that one might regard a deity.

I can appreciate StrictlyLogical's and Devil's Advocates' responses. I find nature at its best quite pleasant; at its worst, a formidable inconvenience. Nature is a part of reality, but so is cancer and a great many other things that I doubt if anyone reveres.

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Good point Repairman.

I think my only rebuttal would be that Nature, warts and all, is still worthy of reverence, because even its less desirable aspects remain subject to intelligible and consistent rules of behavior. Which implies there will always be rational cures for the ills that beset us due to our momentary ignorance of them.  It is a 'God', if you will, that one can aspire to become knowledgeable about, and by doing so, command.  Here again I am relying heavily on Francis Bacon's observation, which I hold to be true.

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Good point DA,

This raises an interesting issue... if God were a part of reality and assuming a feeling such as reverence would be voluntary and causal (here my premises assume God would not "force" us to revere him), then reverence would be in response to something out there.  The something happens to actually be unfathomably powerful, intelligent, and unknowable.

This raises the question, what would be the requirements for something (hypothetically) to validly be the object of our response "reverence"?  Does it need to be more powerful, more intelligent, or does it really need to be all powerful, all knowing, unknowable, or infinite etc.?

 

I think this comes down to semantics somewhat and our acceptance of invalidity infused into words which rightly encompass valid concepts.

When discussing things of this nature we should recall Rand's purposeful re-validation or re-patriation of concepts such as "the good", "morality", "selfishness".  We cannot simply let the meaning of these terms to be banished to oblivion, certainly not the VALID senses in which these terms (self-interest, rationality, etc.) can be used, merely because the "evil" and "irrational" has co-opted, poisoned and tarnished them (intrinsicism, altruism, supernaturalism) for centuries/millennia.

Repairman, I agree reality deserves no subservient, fawning, groveling deference or veneration, but reality IS awesome and in the apprehension of its awesomeness, there is room for a valid Objectivist concept of "reverence".

 

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On 9/20/2016 at 11:44 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Good point Repairman.

I think my only rebuttal would be that Nature, warts and all, is still worthy of reverence, because even its less desirable aspects remain subject to intelligible and consistent rules of behavior. Which implies there will always be rational cures for the ills that beset us due to our momentary ignorance of them.  It is a 'God', if you will, that one can aspire to become knowledgeable about, and by doing so, command.  Here again I am relying heavily on Francis Bacon's observation, which I hold to be true.

So would you say that there will be a rational cure for this ill that besets us, due to our momentary ignorance of it... namely, the ill of *death*? I would agree, that's exactly my position, but I'm curious if you are willing to stand by your statement to its logical conclusion or not.

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2 hours ago, epistemologue said:

So would you say that there will be a rational cure for this ill that besets us, due to our momentary ignorance of it... namely, the ill of *death*? I would agree, that's exactly my position, but I'm curious if you are willing to stand by your statement to its logical conclusion or not.

That man can cheat death?  Perhaps, but we probably won't live to see it.

My position is that what nature can do, man can attempt given the required knowledge and resources.  We know life exists and arose from some lifeless state, which implies that if there was a Creator, it was lifeless, i.e. a nonstarter.  Whether or not man can prolong life indefinably requires some natural example to work with.

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